A Length of Green and Red Stenciled Cotton: Bengara and Overdyed Indigo

$125.00 USD

late nineteenth century
38" x 13", 96.5 cm x 13 cm

This is an absolutely beautiful and generously-sized length of over-dyed indigo. It is hand woven from hand spun cotton yarns and it shows a ground of luminous green colored cloth over which is stenciled a pattern of peonies against a background of arabesque.

The stenciled pattern is applied directly to the cloth using an iron-oxide pigment dye which in Japan is called bengara. 

When applied over the warm green dyed cotton, the bengara pigment creates a wonderful, contrasting cool-warm tonal effect.  In this case, the effect is also quite low-contrast as the saturated tone of the red color is almost the same as that of the saturated color of the over-dyed indigo.

The length is in very good, almost-unused condition. The over dyed indigo is rich in color as is the bengara pattern.

The pattern is based on hexagons which in the Japanese visual vocabulary is a stand in for the tortoiseshell. This, in turn, is a symbol wishing for a long life--the tortoise means longevity.

Inside each hexagon is a stylized chrysanthemum which further enhances the visual appeal of this already-compellingly richly colored cloth.

This is a really wonderful example of a fairly rare type of stenciled cotton cloth--it has good age and is in very good condition.